How to Clean Your Washing Machine

Washing Machine

Dirty clothes go in and clean clothes come out; it’s like magic! Only this magic is limited to how well you take care of your washing machine. Did you know you should clean your washing machine once a month? Dirt and grime that gets removed from your laundry during a washing cycle winds up trapped within the machine, and over time clothes may not come out as clean and fresh smelling as they once did. If you want to keep your washer running at its best and avoid buildup of mold, mildew, and scum that contribute to odor, you need to clean your machine. Here’s how:

Things you should know:

Don’t let wet clothes sit. Remove wet clothes promptly after washing cycle. Leaving wet clothes, even for a few hours, can lead to mold and mildew growth. This will affect the smell of your clothes as well as the performance of your washing machine.

Give it some air. Once a washing cycle is complete and wet clothes have been removed, don’t close the door… keep it open instead. Closing the door to your washer after you’re done traps in moisture, creating the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. By leaving the door open you give the remaining water a chance to evaporate.

Keep the soap and softener dispenser clean. If your machine has a soap and softener drawer that gets wet during the process, take it out, clean, and dry it after every cycle.

Deep clean once a month. Keeping up with everyday maintenance helps to prevent mildew, but it’s still important to do a deep clean every month.

How to Deep Clean a Front-Loading Washing Machine

  • Fill the washing machine with hot water. If you own a newer model it likely has a self-cleaning cycle option; if so, fill with hot water on this setting. If you do not have a self-cleaning option, use a hot wash cycle.
  • If the inside of your machine is stained, add a quart of bleach through the dispenser so that it mixes with the hot water, then let the machine finish the cycle.
  • Once the cycle has ended, you can clean the rubber seal on the door. This area is prone to mold growth because water can get trapped between the machine and seal. To clean the rubber seal, use an all-purpose cleaner and a sponge and dry with a paper towel.
  • Don’t forget the soap dispensers! Use an all-purpose cleaner or a vinegar and water solution. Use a sponge to remove all traces of detergent, dirt and any other possible debris that could clog your dispenser.

How to Deep Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine

  • Fill the washing machine with hot water. The easiest way to do this is to turn on the hot wash cycle and interrupt it after the water has been filled.
  • Add a quart of bleach and turn the washing cycle back on for a few seconds to mix the bleach and water. Once mixed, shut it back off and let the chlorine mixture sit for at least an hour. As it sits it will start lifting the mildew, grime and other unwanted substances within your machine.
  • After an hour, turn back on the washing cycle and let it finish. Once the cycle is finished the machine will be sanitized. If your machine smells like bleach once the cycle is complete, fill with hot water and pour in a quart of vinegar. Let that sit for an hour and then run the washing cycle once more.
  • Clean the soap dispensers. Use a vinegar water solution and a scrubber to remove detergent, dirt and any other debris that tends to get caught in there. Cleaning the dispenser clean is an important part to keeping the inside of your machine clean.

Don’t Forget

When you do your deep clean, no matter if you have a front or top-loading washing machine there are 3 things you should not overlook:

  • Clean the exterior. Use a soft damp cloth to wipe up spills; never use an abrasive cleanser or solvent it may scratch and damage the surface.
  • Check and clean the inlet hose filters. You will find them inside the water inlet connections. Their purpose is to prevent dirt and debris from getting inside the washer, but when they are clogged water will not flow adequately into the machine for a wash cycle.
  • Does pet hair find its way into your washer? The easiest way to remove it is to leave the door open until the pet hair and drum are thoroughly dry. Once dry, use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to remove the hair.


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Fall Cleaning Checklist

It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that summer’s over when lately we’ve had record-breaking temperatures nationwide. As we ease into autumn, it’s important to prepare yourself for the colder weather and transition to the drastic change of season. Aside from cleaning out clutter and swapping out your wardrobe, here are some tips on what to do around your home to prepare for the fall and winter months.

Outside Your Home

  • Clean, cover, and put away patio furniture, grills, outdoor toys, lawn equipment and (drained) garden hoses.
  • Check caulk/weather stripping around windows, doors and the garage and make sure your air conditioner weather seal is correctly installed.
  • Clear out gutters and downspouts.
  • Touch up exterior paint.
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected if needed.

Inside Your Home

  • Wash and insulate windows and screens. The best way to clean screens is with the dusting brush attachment of your vacuum.
  • Vacuum your refrigerator’s condenser coils. For full fridge cleaning, see our article on how to clean your refrigerator here.
  • Clean or replace humidifier elements.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Flip your mattress over and turn it end-to-end to even out wear. Put on winter bedding.
  • Clean out kitchen cabinets, cupboards and freezer of anything old or expired.
  • Check the dryer exhaust tube and vent for lint build-up or other blockages. If you find that your dryer isn’t drying clothes as efficiently as it used to, check out our dryer maintenance article.

These are just a few of the many things you can do to prepare your home for the winter months. What do you do around your home to welcome winter? Let us know in the comments!

Photo courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt on Flickr


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How To: Clean and Maintain Your Refrigerator

Now is a great time to invest in some spring cleaning. Your refrigerator, with its expired condiments, corner grime and dusty condenser coils, should be one of your first candidates for cleaning. Here are some step-by-step instructions on making your fridge look and perform like new, and tips on how to keep it that way year round.


You’ll need to block out anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half of your day in order to really clean out your appliance. Scrubbing down your fridge right before you go to the grocery store is the perfect time, as it will have the least amount of contents in it. Because your refrigerator will be open while you are cleaning, you’ll want to power it down and conserve energy. Loosen the bulb in your fridge until it goes out. Then, set the temperature dial to “off” and unplug it.

Take all of the food off the shelves, drawers and from the door and put it in a cooler. Check for any expired or unnecessary items that you can dispose of. If you can’t remember the last time you used an item or can’t read the date on it, throw it out!


Next, fill your sink with warm, soapy water and remove all of the shelves, drawers, and racks from your fridge. If you have any glass or ceramic, make sure it cools down to room temperature before you place it in the water or you will risk cracking it. Once you wash and rinse the shelves, set them aside and let them dry while you clean out the inside of the fridge.

Mix a half quart of hot water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and wipe down the inside of your fridge with a wet rag or sponge. For tight corners or grime that just won’t come up, try scrubbing with a toothbrush. Don’t forget any of the compartments or the inside of the door! The baking soda mixture will neutralize any odors in the fridge, but if there isn’t any available then soap and water will do. Never use harsh or abrasive cleaners as they can damage the finish and compromise the lining, making it cost more to keep the fridge cool.

After you’ve wiped down the entire inside of your fridge, rinse it with a clean rag or sponge and dry. Place the shelves and drawers back if they are dry and wipe down the rubber molding with warm soapy water. This is a good time to inspect your molding and consider replacing it if necessary, as this will also keep the fridge cooling efficiently. Rubber molding in poor condition will result in temperature fluctuations and will increase energy costs.

Wash the outside of your refrigerator with antibacterial cleaner and remove the drip pan underneath if you have one. Wipe it with the same antibacterial cleaner, rinse and let it dry before placing it back.

You will also find a metal plate near the floor of your fridge, either in the front or the back. Remove it, wash it down, and vacuum the entire area. Use the vacuum hose to remove the dust from the condenser coil as well to optimize efficiency. Once the metal plate is dry, place it back.

That’s it on scrubbing and vacuuming! You can now plug the fridge back in, tighten the light bulb and set the temperature. Let your refrigerator become cool again before placing your food back. Check all of your items for any dirt on the bottom and wipe down any sticky jars or canisters; you wouldn’t want to undo all of the cleaning you just did! You may also want to consider placing an open box of baking soda in your fridge to keep it always smelling fresh.

Future Maintenance and Tips

In the future, check all of your groceries for any unclean items and wipe them down to minimize the frequency you’ll need to clean your entire fridge. Clean any messes that occur immediately to avoid bacteria, mold, mildew, odor, and even food-borne illnesses. On that same note, always store leftovers, open meats, cheeses, perishable items, and strong foods in separate airtight containers. Otherwise, they can absorb odors from and contaminate other foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

Try to clean off the condenser coil regularly to optimize the performance of your refrigerator. Whenever you clean it, try to also clean off at least one of your shelves or drawers inside so you don’t have to wash the whole thing down as frequently.

Do you have any other good tips for cleaning your fridge? Let us know in the comments.


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